Survey: Two thirds of drivers fail to stop at the stop sign

He who is without sin cast the first stone.

We’ve all heard how scofflaw cyclists who run stop signs ruin it for the rest of us upstanding, law-abiding citizens, right?

Just for kicks, a newspaper columnist sat on a bench in Temecula, California (in Riverside County) and counted the cars that came to a complete stop versus those that don’t. His findings?

In a 10-minute period, two-thirds of drivers at the intersection did not completely stop. A few barely slowed down.
The majority of those who did stop only did so because someone coming from another direction was turning in front of them, or there were pedestrians crossing the road.

One driver ignored and almost hit some pedestrians. Of those few who did bother stopping, one was a Temecula police officer and the other a student driver.

There once were crosswalks at this intersection in Old Town, but they were painted over years ago because they gave pedestrians a “false sense of security,” a city official told me at the time.

This writer, John Hunneman, also counted cell phone violations at that intersection. Read more in the Press Enterprise: Cell phone violations drop, but do you feel safe? H/T to Biking in LA.

Traffic safety researcher John Trinkaus tracked stop sign compliance at a four-way stop in New York from 1979 to 1996. When he began the study, he found 37% of motorists came to a complete stop. In the final year of his survey in 1996, only 1% of drivers came to a complete stop. That was only four drivers obeying the law out of 353 counted cars. 2% (seven cars) made a “rolling stop,” while the remainder just blew through the stop signs.

Traffic and moving violations

In Santa Cruz, one frustrated motorist now continuously runs a dashcam to capture bad driving in Santa Cruz County.

Finally, Stanley Roberts covers an ongoing “saturation enforcement” effort by police in San Mateo County to encourage drivers to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. Part 1 is embedded here; you can view Part 2 right here.


  1. Make people stop for empty intersections, and they will roll through them. Give them a yield or a green light and they will speed through. There’s no way to win here, except maybe a rotary.

  2. That 2/3 number is misleading since most that stopped did so only because there was other traffic. Things are much the same in North Texas, except they’re called “California Stops” here and are used to honor our former Mexican co-province. 😉

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